Monday, December 29, 2014

How To Determine the BEST consequences for your kids ~ KITW

I am the worst at spurting off a consequence for a particular offense before thinking all the way through it.
For example, yesterday my highly emotional 8-year-old was having a very anxious morning. I mean a R-E-A-L-L-Y tough morning.
At some point during the morning he had gained full control over the step-stool from the kitchen and was carrying it around so nobody else could use it. Not that anybody else truly NEEDED to use it, but seeing as it was deemed “untouchable” by all but said 8-year-old, the war was on!
Enter mom...[Read More...]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Peace In The Chaos

It's not easy to find peace during this time of year.

visiting family
making memories

and all of these are just some of the funner ones!

But what about when you are surrounded by the constant reminder that Christmas is just another day.  A day with a bitter reminder of the sinful world we live in, except today its just wrapped up in shiny paper and tinsel.

Nothing is really different during this time of year, unless we can stop and remember that God sent his one and only son.  
For you.
For me.

for the hurting
for the couple whose marriage is crumbling
for the family who lost their sweet baby
for the woman struggling to find peace in the chaos of her world
for the diseased and the sick
for the financially unstable
for the family missing loved ones far away
for the one who just lost his job
for those battling depression and anxiety at a heightened rate

This season can be so much more than frenzied parties and activities.
It  is a reminder that there is ONE who gives us a reason to stop, in the middle of the chaos called "life" and remember who He is.

The only ONE who brings peace and hope, and even JOY, in the midst of it all.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace in believing, so that by the power
of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Recipe For Family Togetherness ~ Wassail

His love for wassail began the first year he spent Thanksgiving with my family.  My soon-to-be husband grabbed his coffee mug and poured his first cup. It was love at first sip.  

Now we bring in every fall season (and keep it going all winter long) with a pot of this juice blend that warms the heart, soothes the soul and makes you just want to sit on the couch with loved ones (and magically makes the people you don't really want to be sitting next to not seem all that bad) and watch the embers in the fire glow...okay, okay, maybe that's going a little too far (I was just kidding people), but it really does taste good!  And it really is the perfect drink to snuggle up next to loved ones with.

Here is my recipe:
64 oz. of apple juice (or cider)
3/4 of a large can of pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
2-4 sticks of cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp of whole cloves

bring to a quick boil on the stove
reduce heat to low and sip on it the rest of the day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

How To Make The Choice To Homeschool Or Not ~ KITW

I grew up as a teacher’s kid. I have such fond memories of roaming the school hallways early in the mornings, pinning bulletin boards for my mom, grading papers at night, and cutting out laminated items for hours. I loved it.
So naturally, when my husband (Josh) and I got married, I envisioned waving to my future children as they climbed on the school bus to head to school.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Gratitude Experiment ~ Over 3 1/2 weeks in

My kids have been super busy today.

Actually, it started yesterday.  Rainy came to me and asked if I had any magazines that she could look through to find some "fun stuff".  I reluctantly handed over the year subscription of my Real Simple magazine I had gotten as a birthday gift a few years ago.  I like to decorate with them.  The covers are so simple, with the perfect seasonal splash of color, so I've hung onto them as they resurface every so often in different places around our home.  Like in a basket or under a bowl or propped up against a vase.  The possibilities are endless.

But she asked so sweet...

And here is where she has been ever since.

It began yesterday afternoon and carried on through the evening as she bagged them up for Journey rehearsal night.  Then, as soon as breakfast was over she even reigned in the boys and they got back to work.  They have cut out people and outfits for their "dolls".  They have cell phones and makeup for them.  They even cut out display pages that they have taped to a box to make a house for their little people!  It's been so fun to watch.

I've been watching and listening.

They are working together.
The girls will scour the magazines for inappropriate photos to rip out so Zeke doesn't see them.
They are being creative.
They are sharing.
They haven't turned on a single appliance (besides Zeke's early morning superhero drawing movie he made with the iPad).


Josh and I continue to be shocked at how productive we have all been and how creative they have gotten in their play, even with track out and cold rainy days.  They haven't missed their toys at all!


Personally I have realized just how much I grab for my phone.  It is absolutely ridiculous how much I rely on it for mindless activity.  Like those few minutes I am standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting on the kids to finish up a task, or between activities...

I am having to mentally train my brain to shift during these idle moments.  Shifting them to focus on the Lord in prayer, gratefulness and thankfulness.


We have been fixing the same meals every week and I'm beginning to forget what we have had each night, as it tends to feel like we are eating the same things every night, ha!  But have the kids complained one time about eating the same things?  Nope.  Not once.

In fact, food is Cai's thing, and he continues to ask God every day to be grateful for the food that we get to eat every night and to not complain about our snacks.  It is so sweet:)


So, yup, we are in this experiment for the long haul, and don't have a single regret about it!  Less is more in the land of contentment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Gift Bigger Than The Perfect Gift

I can be such a slow learner sometimes.

I've been a mom for almost 10 years.
That's almost a decade of learning how to be affectionate, patient, creative, balanced in discipline...

But I still miss it.
A lot.

And apparently us parents never really master it.
It's something that will continually be cultivated over time.
I get that.

But I love those moments when God allows us to get glimpses of the big picture.

I got a tiny glimpse when I got the idea to make our bucket list of things to keep us occupied over our winter track-out.

But last night I got more than a glimpse!  I got a wide-open-door look into what my role as a mommy is.  I got to just stop and stare.  I got to see what the long-lasting effects could be.

I had been reminded, on Pinterest of course, of these yarn dolls that I used to make when I was a kid.  I thought that a family of these little cuties would make the perfect gift for Alethia this Christmas!  I went out and picked the yarn for a family of 7 colorful people and couldn't wait to get to work.

Josh had a late-night rehearsal and I was all caught up in the ColonyShop.  It was the perfect time to make Alethia's gift.  It didn't take long for my hands to remember how to fold the strings and tie the pieces together.

I REMEMBERED making these dolls.
Sweet memories.
Alethia is going to LOVE these.
I bet she'll want to make some too!

I got about half-way through with the daddy before I realized that she could enjoy this more than I had thought.  I finished the daddy and the mommy so she would see what a boy and girl yard doll would look like, and intentionally left the rest of her gift unmade.

Because SHE would have fun making them.
With me!
Just like I remember my mom showing me how to make them.
It will MAKE ME stop what I am doing and spend time with her.
And that is even MORE of a gift that a ball of yarn resulting in a cute little dolly.

So often I feel like I need to keep the kids occupied and out of my hair when they are tracked out or home all day.  But this time I'm actually going to try to spend the time WITH them.  The other things will just need to wait.

I'm a work in progress.
Then again, aren't we all.
Kids, moms, dads, wives, husbands, teachers, SAHM, working moms...we are ALL a work in progress.

Imperfect progress.
We just have to be willing to make those steps that keep us moving forward.
And in my case, it is one unfinished Christmas gift at a time this year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Morning With Cai-bo and His Questions

Cai has got to say the cutest things EVER!  It's not just what he says, but the way his voice so innocently asks the questions.  And his cute little voice and the way he still talks with a lisp.  I love the whole "experience".

So, yesterday, with a whole day all to myself with him because he was feeling a little under the weather, I got to enjoy the questions and answer them in detail.  We spent a great deal of time getting to the bottom of how this crazy world works.

Here are just a few of the random questions his mind rested on yesterday morning as we worked tirelessly to solve the world's problems.

Cai:"My tummy just growled.  Why does tummies growl, mommy?"

Cai:"I see birds mommy.  How do birds land on the ground mommy?  Maybe they just don't flap their wings."

Cai:"How did the world start with nothing and then a God baby?"

Cai:"How is there different kinds of colors of grass?"

Cai:"Have you ever heard of a fire stone? Are they for real?  How are they firey?  What if they were not hot?  Maybe they could just be warm."

Cai:"Tomorrow we don't have school.  Because it's track out.  It's just weekend now.  Weekend is two days and track out is lots of days.  How many days is track out mommy?"

Cai:"What if I lose a tooth but I'm sleeping and it's lost and I can't find it and then it's gone?"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Track-Out Bucket List of 2014

Today is my kids last day of school!  The winter track-out season has arrived!  Just in time for the holiday craziness to begin.  My anxiety can quickly overtake me on cold, gloomy, winter days so I needed a plan to navigate the days so we aren't stuck inside putting out sibling squabbles all day.

So in an effort to keep mommy sane and ALL the children alive savor the excitement of the season the Colony sat down together to come up with a "Winter Track-Out Bucket List".  

Winter Track-Out Bucket List of 2014

go shopping for cousins Christmas presents

go to the science museum

find a new park

$1.50 movie outing

a hot chocolate tea party

sing songs around the Christmas tree

fireside game night in the living room

make fun Christmas crafts

string popcorn (and maybe eat a little too;)

field/snow sledding

wild onion fight (a fun family tradition)

hallway races/bowling with superheroes

go to the library

pullen park

a trip to go see the Hambrick's

play family

write a letter to someone

make some goodies and take them to ________________
(we can't very well give our surprise away!)

find a new place to explore

everybody give $1 and buy a blanket and give it to a homeless person

play hide-n-seek

have a dance party

make fun nature creations from things only found outside

spend a morning/afternoon at Lumpy's IceCream
(the owner has befriended our family and told us to come with games and packed lunch
and we could take over the shop to get out of the house one day:)


We might be adding to the list, but we will most certainly be checking things off beginning TOMORROW!

PS - How is everyone's 31 day challenge going?

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Ultimate Giving Guide For Christmas 2014

Well, it's not exactly the ULtimate list.
But it is a list none-the-less.
And a list of real gifts, for real people, with much less than us, in a season where we are bombarded with thinking about ourselves and all our wants and desires, as if we actually deserve something.

So, in an attempt to think outside of our pretty little bubbles, I thought I'd share some of my favorite ministries and some opportunities they have to give a gift that will bring hope and life to others.

We have friends in South Africa serving a community through Ubuntu Football, using soccer to spread the love of Jesus.  Make sure to check out their story and see how you can join them in their ministry.

Arise Africa will always be near and dear to our hearts.  It is the ministry that saved our Alethia girl's life and brought her into our family.  There are SO many ways you can join them in their ministry, but here is a link to their "Christmas Gift Catalog" that lists out so many awesome opportunities for you to give from sponsoring a child in the Babies Home or a pastor in one of their church plants or an African missionary.  You also have the option to plant different fruits and vegetables or buy animals for milk and eggs.  What a cool way to help ward off hunger plus giving eternal hope and life through the spreading of the gospel!

Not only do we have family in Jinja, Uganda (who, by the way can always use your support as well;), but we are about to send another family of ours to Haiti next spring.  It is such a bitter sweet (only bitter because we'll miss them being down the street) thing to send loved ones overseas to serve, but how cool is it to see a family walking in obedience, even if it means to "the ends of the earth".  Josh's little brother, Jacob, are raising money to get to Haiti and YOU can be a part of it.  You can give directly through their sending ministry OR you can purchase a Christmas ornament that is helping them raise funds to get there.

These are our personal favorites, but there are also larger ministries our family has also supported, that do great work that we would recommend as well such as World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan's Purse.

My friend co-writer at Kids In The Word, Shawna, shared 3 other organizations I wasn't familiar with, but am anxious to look into called Heifer International, Advent Conspiracy/Living Water International and Feed My Starving Children.

Now it's YOUR turn to share!  If you have any charities or legitimate organizations that are near to your heart please share them in the comments section below so we can all go check them out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't PRETEND To Fight

I love that Josh lets me proofread his papers before he submits them to his professors.  Mostly because we always joke about how I never used to proofread ANYTHING I wrote.  I would write a paper in college and submit it as soon as I placed the final period at the end of the last sentence.  In fact, in my early days of blogging I used to do the same thing.  A few years ago, Josh admitted to going behind me and making the needed changes for me without my even knowing it, ha!  What a sweet husband he is:)

And now here I am, red pen in hand, anxiously waiting to find that one single mistake that he may have missed.  Partly because Josh is such an excellent writer that I can't ever find anything wrong with his writing, but mostly because he values my input and involvement.

So there I was, proofing another paper on Monday evening.  The paper was so good!  I was learning so much!  I began to wrestle with things I had never even though of in a paper about true discipleship and a close, intimate walk with Christ.  And then I read this sentence: "...pretending to be in a battle that I am not actually in...".

This partial sentence hit my heart hard and the conviction slapped me in the face.

How often do I reference this battle, this fight, going on all around us that we can't see.  The spiritual battle.  Good vs. Evil.  The blood, the sweat, the sacrifice...pretending to be smack dab in the middle of it, as I carry on with my pretty little SAFE life on the sidelines pretending.

I want to get dirty in the battle.  I don't want to just pretend like I'm part of it, scurrying around doing acts of service, or half-heartedly making mental lists of how I can help God out.  I want to love God so bad that it hurts.  I want to be so dedicated to His cause that it envelopes every fiber of my being.

At the end of my life I want to feel that good, satisfied exhaustion that I gave it my all, that I didn't hold anything back, like after that soccer game that went into double over time and I've got the aching muscles and scars to prove it.

He is so worth it.  His Son lived a life like ours.  Died a painful death FOR US!

Stop pretending.  Grab your sword and get in the battle!  Let's not just pretend to fight anymore.  Let's make our fight WORTH IT!

~Thanks for going to school, Josh, and letting me be a part of what you are learning.  You are a great writer, but more importantly, you are on the front lines of this battle and I'm so proud to fight next to you!~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Day In The Life ~ Story In Pictures

Jude lives quite the extravagant (and predictable) life.

I've done these posts before where I lay out my day in pictures for you all to see,
but today I wanted you to view a day from Jude's perspective!

The pictures are blurry, fuzzy, un-staged and un-edited
just like the rest of our crazy life.

He wakes up every morning ready for bwetwest (ie-breakfast)
asking for cereal by saying some word that I have no idea how to write.

As soon as he finishes his last bite he climbs down from his seat and begins the rest of his morning ritual...laying around on the couch begging for someone to "sit on da couch and cuddoe wit me"

most mornings I am scurrying around getting the rest of the Colony their breakfast
while finishing up the touches on their lunches and snacks for school while calling out
for them to get their shoes and socks on, put their jammies away
and "don't forget your book bag Cai!"

But then, THEN I get to sit on da couch and cudoe with my cutie:)

We begin with sweet cuddles while talking about the day ahead
followed by a Praise Baby and Daniel Tiger while mommy gets the house in order

And then it's time for a stroll/jog

which usually ends with a stir-crazy Jude who wants to walk and push his own stroller

snack time with "Cookie Balls" is next on the to-do list.
(Yup, that recipe will be posted soon.  It's a weekly Colony favorite!)

Followed by a few errands to pick up milk from the local "creamery"
where we have to support his NC Agricultured ice cream efforts

and most of the time Jude weasels his way into my heart for "a bite of yoes"

He is my little shadow.
He can now start a load of dishes in the dishwasher himself,
get his own lunch items out of the frig
bring me the next load of laundry and help me get it going

and is always up for helping me get dinner prep going 

after a hearty lunch we head out to the ColonyShop to work on some orders

play with trains

or run around naked on a warm fall afternoon

shortly after his bare bootie shenanigans you will find him hiding in a corner from me
as I search for him to put him down for a nap

A couple of hours later he emerges as the sweetest cuddle bug EVER

and hits up a few selfies as we wait for the time to go get the kids from school

then the REAL fun begins!
He LOVES to play with his brothers and sisters!

Then its back to work in the kitchen to get dinner on the table

The rest of the evening consists of a whirlwind of homework,
cleaning up dinner, putting our house back together, chores and family "commotions".

You'll find him rocking and chanting himself to sleep to the sound of daddy's music late into the night.

Another day complete in the life of little Jude.